IMAGE: Sumit Nagal is confident of breaking into the top 100 and qualify for this year’s Paris Olympics. Photograph: Australian Open/Instagram
Tennis ace Sumit Nagal said staying fit and breaking into top-100 in world rankings will be his focus ahead of this year’s Paris Olympics.
The 26-year-old from Haryana has had his share of brushes with injuries in the past, having missed qualifying for the 2018 US Open due to an injury. In 2021, he suffered a hip injury before undergoing surgery in November of that year.
“Staying fit would be the highest priority. The second (goal) would be to play in the Olympics, which would be a nice feeling. But for that, you need to be within the top 100,” Nagal said on Tuesday, during the Chennai Open ATP Challenger event, where he is through to the pre-quarterfinals.
Currently ranked 121 in the ATP singles ranking, Nagal is confident of breaking into the top 100.
“It (Olympic qualification) would only be possible if I keep winning the matches. I have to focus on upcoming matches and not wonder about what’s going to happen in the next five months because tennis is a very unpredictable sport where anything can happen. I like to focus day-by-day and keep short goals and tunnel vision than to keep a large picture.”
He drew eyeballs after making it to the main draw of the Australian Open last month, where he won his opening match Kazakhstan’s World No. 27 Alexander Bublik to become the first Indian to beat a seeded player in the main draw before losing in the next round.
Talking about the experience in Melbourne, Nagal admitted to having gained a lot of confidence along with attention from across the world.
“I gained a lot of confidence in terms of tennis, and physically and mentally too, going to the court and carrying the pressure. But at the same time, I was also looking to play solid tennis and try to do the things that I wanted to work on.
“Overall, it was a great experience playing in it (Australian Open) as well as winning a match. So, I wouldn’t complain about it. I feel the momentum is with me, and I’m playing well.
“I have been getting a lot of love from the tennis family lately in India and outside. It feels nice, and I’m very thankful to them for supporting me for the way I’m playing.”
India’s tennis legend Anand Amritraj had said that Nagal needs to work on his serves to be able to make a greater impact.
And the youngster stated that he has been working on his serves besides also focusing on the mental aspect of his game.
“I am focusing a lot on the serves, on the back-end and coming to the nets. Also, like every player, I’m working on the mental side, as no matter how good you are, it’s the most important part of tennis.”